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Allow children to test their intellect — educator

BY LUKE DOUGLAS Career & Education senior reporter douglasl@jamaicaobserver.com
Sunday, August 19, 2012


SUCCESSFUL homeschooling mom Kamau Mahakoe is defending her decision to let her children sit more subjects in external examinations and from an earlier age than is the norm for most youngsters.

Mahakoe, who, along with her husband Omari Ra — a senior lecturer and artist at the Edna Manley School for the Visual and Performing Arts — is homeschooling their four children in the primary years, has seen her two older children perform brilliantly in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams over the past two years.

This year, her 16-year-old daughter Tchakamau, who attends Immaculate Conception High, was successful in a mind-boggling 16 subjects, with 15 at grade one and one at grade two.

Her 13-year-old son and Tchakamau's brother Kuti passed four subjects this year and now has eight. He was successful in six subjects last year before entering high school at Jamaica College at third form, but repeated two subjects from last year.

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Some persons have suggested that sitting so many subjects at CSEC is unnecessary since it takes about eight subjects for students to get into any sixth form and position themselves to matriculate for university and win lucrative scholarships.

But Mahoke says great individuals push the boundaries of what is thought possible in order to achieve outstanding results.

"The persons who blaze the trail in the world never ask themselves why stop at [a certain point]; they always ask themselves why not step forward and see how much we can do. As a result, we benefit from so many inventions and ideas because they raise the bar; they never settle for what is considered enough. I always want my children to be a part of that group who are pressing ahead," she told Career & Education.

Tchakamau agreed with her mother, adding that high schools should allow students to do more subjects if they are capable. However, she acknowledges that there would be challenges to fitting all the subjects into the timetable.

"Immaculate doesn't allow you to do more than eight during the regular school day, but after that you can do an extra two so 10 is the maximum you can do," she said.

Tchakamau had to do the other six subjects from a private centre.

"I feel on top of the world; I got all my subjects," she said, in commenting on her outstanding achievement.

Tchakamau wants to complete sixth form at Immaculate before studying at a university aboard, hopefully on a scholarship.

The Honour Roll student was involved in several extra-curricular activities this past year, including School Challenge Quiz as well as the United Nations, Duke of Edinburgh, Octagon, and Chess clubs. The teen also holds a green belt in karate.

"I want to be an astronaut and marine biologist, to write books [and] do artwork. And when I finish learning everything, I want to teach people," she said of her plans for the future.

Ra, who taught Tchakamau history on Sundays, had this to say: "The Akoben Institute is rooted in the evolutionary principles of Garvey, Dr Yosef Ben-Jocchanan and Bobby Wright. Garvey proposed that we must transform our homes into institutes of higher learning in all the relevant disciplines of cognitive development. Dr Ben proposed that since we are an African people and we are the harbingers of civilisation, there is nothing here that we can't positively transform, develop and invent. Bobby Wright emphasised the understanding in social, political and racial implications of our educational systems."

Added the children's father: "Once we are aware of that, then the learners are no longer statistics, but are living black beings who are ready to participate in the great scheme of evolution. Thus it is that the biological, genetic and evolutionary fact of the black child is the number one indicator that a multi-genius is ready to evolve, providing the immediate learning environment is rid of all degenerative anti-black and antisocial impulses and a new healthy cultural incubator is created."

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